It’s been a week, and I have slowly started to allow this shift in identity to become more public. I have decided to change the name by which I go by. I’m not changing my name, because I’ve actually been going by my middle name – which is Stephanie.
Why? In my preteens and well into my twenties, I was known as Skwerl because I was hyper, full of energy and scatterbrained. I also was so deeply afraid of myself and committing to things that I had so much stuff on my plate to distract myself from what I truly wanted to do. It’s why I decided to go back to my real name, because I knew something was wrong when even my closest friends forgot my name was Stephanie.
It’s been about ten years, but I’m really going back to my roots for my naming identity on this one. My first name is actually Chenchira. I’ve shied away from it, dreading being called it in school because after the teacher did the inevitable pause in roll call, mouthing my name a few times before trying it out and normally butchering it, the most common thing people confused me for was a either a chinchilla or a chia pet. Besides that, Thai is a tonal language and I cringed hearing the American version of my name since I was so ashamed that I didn’t even grow up with Thai in the household because my mom didn’t want to confuse me with being bi-lingual growing up. Heck, half the time I can’t even pronounce my sisters name right (sorry, Sis!), even though it’s one syllable.
I’m processing for a big ceremony coming up in my shamanic community, and one of the things we are asked to do is really ask what part of ourselves is standing in the way of us being this manifestation of us living/expressing our gifts fully in our lives. One aspect of me that I am putting to rest, is this part of me that’s okay with having “enough”. It’s this part of me that’s okay with the status quo and just gets by with contributing and doing “enough” so that it feels like I’m making a difference instead of actually giving it my all and not settling for less until all of my brothers, sisters and siblings have equality. It’s this same part of me that didn’t even want to try and correct people when they mispronounced my first name, giving up by choosing to go by my white presenting name so I can fit in better and not have to deal with what uncomfortability my first name brings. Obviously I have grown a lot from that uncomfortability, so I feel that I can now embrace my first name in a way where I won’t mind if people mispronounce it as they are learning it. In the week of practicing with close friends and family, I find that this transition has brought more smiles as people try to remember the pronunciation, honoring my choices and reclamation of power. I have also felt a significant shift in my relationship with my ancestors, since I’m acknowledging and claiming my half Thai heritage from my moms side, when I’ve been avoiding it practically my whole life.
Names are power, and I feel like skirting around my first name in a weak hearted way for decades was my avoiding stepping into power. So I’m sacrificing “Stephanie” to the fire in exchange of the possibility of who Chenchira can become.
I’m not changing my name. I’m just changing how I identify. Chenchira is my birth name. I’m coming home.
Please call me by Chenchira (pronounced Chen-cheer-ah) from here on out. I’ll hold you with compassion if you slip up and call me Stephanie, I’ll just correct you 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Many blessings to you and your family. May your ancestors be proud as we take new actions in this pivotal time in history.
How does a tree grow?
Simple. From the air. No, seriously. Literally from the air. Trees breathe in carbon dioxide, and through the process of photosynthesis they take the carbon and make plant material out of it. The soil is more of a sharing of nutrients that the plant needs. It’s designed to be this network or web where the different plants and microorganisms talk to each other to share resources. The actual composition of what the plant needs to grow is literally taken from the air through carbon dioxide. Carbon is the building block of life and is how the tree grows roots, leaves, and branches.
In my cosmology, air is related to our mental wisdom body. Our society rewards people for pushing themselves and overthinking, to the degree where many people have developed either a low tone generalized anxiety, or an intense expression of worry/anxiety that can be paralyzing. Isn’t it interesting that one of the contributing factors affecting climate change is the excess amount of particular gasses in the air? Overthinking is crippling us.
As I’ve sat with the wisdom of the earth through my recovery process of getting hit by lightning 5 months ago, I’ve deeply connected to my own foundation and what makes me tick. I have realized that I haven’t been breathing in deeply enough to set more roots in the ground. I’ve just been cycling in that pattern of anxiety of how to get my sh*t together to make it look like I’m a functional human being. I really sat with how self destructive I’ve been my whole life, being motivated by the expectations of other people instead of from my core values and beliefs. Sure, I *thought* I had done a lot of work around that… But as most people who have had a surgery or broken bones can attest, there’s nothing like a good ole injury that sets you down on your ass for a few months to have you question why you do everything in your life, and why it matters that you do it.
One of the biggest ways that I’ve been cycling is that I’ve been trying to make a business of separating my spiritual life from my everyday life. I overidentified with being a healer, and even though I have helped a lot of people, I wasn’t really helping myself the way I needed to. A lot of my focus was going out instead of in, and the past few years I’ve really had to put the brakes on a lot of it. To my clients, thank you for your patience while I took these past few months to really focus on me and what I needed without interruption. To my friends, thank you for your support and letting me crash at your places while little dude played and I rested. To my community, thank you for giving me the space to be messy while still holding me accountable for my actions and behaviors.
As I sat in the stillness and worked with my body, doctors, new medicines, herbs, acupuncture, and qigong over the past 5 months – I found some things that I am really passionate about and I’m excited to start exploring in 2021. One of them is soil health and regenerative agriculture. I’ve started taking herbalism classes again, glad to be learning so much from the plant world around me. The other is that I’m studying an online course to become an electrician. I won’t go as far to becoming a journeyman electrician, but I want to learn enough to be able to install these DC Microgrids comfortably without asking for help, and helping people transition to an off grid lifestyle. And safely. Because we all know how much electricity loves me (thanks, lightning!). Talk about a “grounded approach”
Last but not least, things have been slow moving but I’m co-founding a new intentional community that is turning into an education facility and integrates how to live in right relationship with that land with a restorative agriculture point of view. Right now the magnolia house is set to being straw bale wrapped next week. It will serve as a demonstration of these off grid technologies that are more easily accessible for people with mobility hinderances, and also serve as a mini connection hub for Living Energy Farm and possibly some other communities in the area.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my life was to set up these huge tasks for myself, overcommit to several projects, and not follow through with them until completion. I’ve left a lot of things undone. I gave my time and energy to projects and jobs that weren’t things that filled me with passion and hope for the future. I tried to adjust my business to the needs of the marketplace, and ran events based off of what other people said they wanted instead of what I truly wanted to give. I saw possibilities and ran with them, depleting and robbing from my future energy resources to where when I had a physical body catastrophe, I was laid flat on my ass for 3-4 months. This left a never ending cycle where I didn’t grow roots in the ground, and I spun up in my head without nourishing my very real needs to what my soul and body were asking me to do in this lifetime. This crash and burn mentality is exactly what feeds the broken system we are living in, but I didn’t know any other way to operate.
Until the plants sang to me. They taught me how to be in my body (for better or for worse, chest pains and all), and taught me what it was like to take it a step at a time. Now I see so plainly what all my past actions amounted to, and how there were similar themes to what I was doing all of my life. I just had to slow down enough to hear the songs the plants were singing. Now I’m breathing in the carbon of my old expelled failures of projects, allowing those “failures” to become the fertilizer, and grow new roots and shoots for the projects I feel super passionate about. I’m still going to see clients and teach, but now it’s a more integrative approach on how to be spiritual through daily action instead of separating the spiritual from the mundane.
Heres to activism by planting an organic garden. Here’s to regenerative agriculture, carbon sequestration, reversing climate change through how we tend the earth, and to building new communities that connect with others who want to do the same. We can’t fix a system that is broken if we are contributing the same broken energy to try and “fix” it. The world won’t get fixed by heroic efforts of self depletion. I feel very strongly that it’s through practices that maintain, sustain, and regenerate a healthy embodied relationship with everything around us in a balanced way. I don’t have all the answers yet, but I’m excited and hopeful about finding how I can personally contribute.